I learned this week that the Democratic National Committee underminded support for Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders because he was not religious enough. Like a Samaritan in Jesus’s day, Bernie is not an active member of the chosen religion. The RNC has the same filter. Nevertheless like most of the non-religious, Bernie’s values and actions are consistent with the ethical standards of Judaea -Christian people and the golden rule accepted by most civilized people.
Would Jesus of Nazareth judge Bernie unqualified? Jesus said the most important commandment includes two parts, a responsibility to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and a responsibility to love your neighbor as yourself. When asked “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered with the parable exclaiming the good Samaritan as the neighbor.
Like Bernie, Samaritans were not the chosen people, having split from Judaism in the 4th century B.C., a century after the Torah and four centuries after Samaria was Israel’s capital and religious center. Considering the advice from Jesus, first loving God, and second, loving your neighbor as yourself, leaders have gotten into trouble trying to enforce the former upon people outside their religion, with inquisitions, massacres, persecutions, discrimination, crusades, and genocide, so our Constitution only allows government to address the second part.
Bernie seems to be an expert at helping us love our neighbors and ourselves. (As far as loving himself for the right reasons, just look at how Bernie accepts his imperfect hair. He is older and clearly comfortable with looking that way.) And for loving others, he fights for healthcare for the sick, affordable prescriptions for the old, and better wages for the poor.
So let’s love our neighbors as our selves. In that other person’s shoes, wouldn’t we want to earn at least $15 per hour, pay the same prices for prescriptions as foreigners, and be able to afford the costs of receiving healthcare when we are ill?
Bernie is out of the race, but in November let’s support people that love their neighbor as well as themselves. Better yet, we should exercise our capacity to love every day. Light exercise would entail loving our families and friends – even when they disagree with us and helping them any way. A tough workout would be practicing loving people from outside our tribe (political party, religion, sport, etc.) with goals that are opposed to our values. Help them find a way to live their lives with liberty and pursue happiness as they desire it.
Like our Olympians, perhaps one day someone in our town will become such a master of love that they teach leaders across the world to accept, respect, and love. For me, I am working on loving people who are intolerant of others. I need more practice. I’ll get there.
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